Clive Lloyd to West Indies: ‘A perfect opportunity to prove you’re not second-class cricketers’

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Former captain scripts open letter to the team in Bangladesh, urging the inexperienced players to believe in themselves

In 1966, 22-year-old Guyanese youngster Clive Lloyd made his international debut in the first Test of the India tour, played in what was then Bombay. Lloyd, the tall and bespectacled left-hander, was told he was playing the match less than an hour before the start due to the finger injury to Seymour Nurse.

Lloyd scored 82 and an unbeaten 78 to help the visitors take the series lead. West Indies won the three-match Test series 2-0 with Lloyd finishing among the top five run-makers. Lloyd utilised that fortuitous break to grow into a solid batsman and one of the most successful and dominant captains in cricket.

Now, at 76, Lloyd wants to use the story of his debut to motivate the inexperienced West Indies squads in Bangladesh. Several of West Indies’ first-team players in both the Test and white-ball teams opted out of the Bangladesh tour which comprises three ODIs followed by two Tests.

In a heartfelt letter addressed to the contingent, Lloyd told the players that although they might feel they have “thrown in the deep” in what will be a “daunting” assignment, it is not “insurmountable.” The letter was distributed to the West Indies players at the behest of Cricket West Indies president Ricky Skerritt.

Following is Lloyd’s letter in full.

Dear Guys

I thought that I would send you this message as I’m aware that you’re embarking on a Tour which you probably weren’t prepared for and perhaps you feel like you’ve been thrown in the deep end and that people expect you to stand and deliver. What you should understand is that you have a chance of cementing a permanent place in the West Indies Team and not merely filling a gap. You have been chosen on merit. This is your destiny. It is your opportunity to fulfill it. This is a perfect opportunity to demonstrate your talents and skills to the world and prove to all and sundry that you’re not second-class cricketers. You can step up to the plate.

In 1966 I was not selected in the original Test Team. Fortuitously, Seymour Nurse got injured and 45 minutes before the 1st Test I was informed that I was playing and I played 35 straight Test Matches because I performed well. We won the series. You see I recognized there was an opportunity to demonstrate my talent and capabilities and I seized it with both hands. Moreover, playing for the West Indies is one of the highest honors a citizen of the region can achieve. I believed it then and I believe it now.

You have found yourselves in exactly the same position; therefore, the world is your oyster. This is your opportunity to prove yourself worthy of your selection and you should be proud to wear that West Indies blazer and cap. You are representing one of the best cricketing nations which possesses an enviable record of which we are very proud. Remember, we’re a nation of just over five million people.

Our records include: 29 Test matches without losing. 11 straight wins. For 17 years straight we never lost a test match.

This is just a snapshot of our exploits and achievements in the past. It took hard work, commitment and a sense of purpose to realise them. Above all I would advise that you pay close attention to your levels of fitness and seek at all times whether as a batsman or a bowler to refine your techniques and skills. My team did it and I am confident you can too.

You now have the opportunity to improve our Test match rating and instill some pride again in the standard of our Cricket. This is not just my expectation but that also of the entire Caribbean region. Your victory would be theirs also.

Your trip to Bangladesh might look daunting but this task is not insurmountable. It is the ideal opportunity. With your determination, professionalism, youth and tenacity you can begin the dawn of a new era under the (Test) captaincy of the very astute Kraigg Brathwaite. Again, what I am saying to you is not idle speculation. It is based on my own experience. When I took over the West Indies cricket team we had lost more than twenty Test matches on a trot and there was a clear need for rebuilding and a re-purposing of the team. I also had a number of untried players, as many of you might be. But my team did not flinch from the challenge and we eventually emerged on top. I am confident you can begin the necessary rebuilding of the West Indies team. We did it because we believed in ourselves. You can too. Self belief is the first step to success.

I would like you to remember this adage: ‘in order to gain altitude, you must have the right attitude’. A positive mental attitude will see you through many tight situations which I’m sure you will encounter during this Tour.

Lastly, success comes before work only in the dictionary. I wish you the best of luck. Please remember most people are judged by the obstacles they overcome.

Nagraj Gollapudi is news editor at ESPNcricinfo

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